The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In L. Sprague de Camp’s The Tritonian Ring, Vakar Zhu, a young prince, grows to manhood while trying to avert the machinations of the evil gods of the west, who have precipitated a war between Lorsk and the pirate kingdom of the Gorgon Isles. Vakar, heir to the throne of Lorsk, is sent on a mysterious quest to seek “that which the gods fear most.”

Beginning his quest, Vakar searches for the first of many clues. He has no idea where to find what the gods fear most; indeed, he has no idea what it is the gods fear. As he wanders with Fual, a personal slave, his inexperience is almost palpable. Although he is supposed to be journeying incognito, his commanding presence and impatience with disrespect reveal his princely rank.

As he heads eastward, reaching the city of Sederado, Vakar wins the love of its nubile young queen, Porfia. While the two young royals carouse, Qasigan, a priest of the Gorgon Isles, magically causes a throne carved in the form of a snake to come to life. The monstrous serpent attacks the royal dinner party. By dint of quick thinking and with a sharp knife, Vakar kills the beast. The queen’s lover, Thiegos, already jealous of the northern prince, tries to assassinate Vakar but ends up choking out his life on the end of the northman’s blade.

The magical priest Qasigan pursues Vakar to a primitive island, where the prince’s bronze weapons and trade goods arouse even more jealousy. He narrowly...

(The entire section is 559 words.)